I call them the L’Oreal boys

I call them the L’Oreal boys. Not for any particular penchant they may have for face cream but because they manage to gleefully glide through life without any of the boring old rules (paying parking tickets, rent and prostitutes out of your own money, for example) getting in their way or cramping their style.

Why? I‘Because we’re worth it!’ they’ll reply. And we almost believe them – existing as they do in a parallel universe where they make the rules up as they go along and we are convinced by the sheer assuredness of their performance.

When Mr. Versalko was sent to jail last week for 6 years for scamming 18 million from his employer and spending it on property and prostitutes – I thought two things.

1) How come there were no leaflets on the sex industry in the careers counsellor’s office when I was at school and 2) just how worth it did Mr. Versalko actually think he was? Did he not feel that perhaps he’d had his money’s worth after the first hundred grand? How did ‘I’m glad I’ve got a job to turn up to’ become: ‘it’s been a big day and I deserve some treats.’

The fact that the bank is now going after the prostitute to try and claw back some money because she was at least smart enough to invest it properly suggests they could save themselves a whole lot of trouble next time if they just fired all their investment brokers and asked the prostitute’s collective to fill the vacancies. Nothing like getting a girl who’s known hard times to look after your money.

The funny thing is that it’s almost a year to the day since the Otago District Health Board member got jailed for 9 years for ripping his employer off for 17 million. On a per annum basis neither case is a bad package. There are not many jobs that pay over 2 million dollars a year unless you’re the CEO of Telecom and even then you have to at least pretend to do something for the cash – (like get an Olympic medal in hand wringing for example).

It’s even funnier then that we now have Ms Bennet saying it’s time for beneficiaries to tighten their belts. She’s right of course – the strident sense of entitlement to an income as well as high end hire purchase items and cars is, amongst some beneficiaries, to the point of being utterly delusional. Yet it’s difficult to explain to the minnows in the food chain why this might be the case when those on the highest rungs are setting the general tone. And a lot can be forgiven it seems if you’re a nice guy with it.

Mickey Havoc is a nice guy who got community service doing something he likes at nearly $200 an hour in order to pay off his $40,000 traffic fines.

Phil Heatley is, undoubtedly a nice guy – the mayor of Whangarei said so on National Radio and the PM said his mistakes were more silly or stupid rather than sinister. Unfortunately they chose the auditor general to investigate Phil’s alleged misdemeanours – an office I lost respect for when it found the mayor of Thames, Phillipa Barribal (an honorary L’Oreal old boy) guilty of a conflict of interest which resulted in her benefiting from a council go ahead on her own development she’d bullied through the day before a law change would have made it impossible to subdivide. She was not charged however as the auditor general deemed that it ‘would not be in the public’s interest due to the ‘seriousness of the consequences of conviction.’ I thought that the whole point of consequences was that they were serious enough to mitigate bad behaviour. Now I just believe that sending anything to the Auditor General is simply code for ‘Make It Go Away.’

But perhaps Mr. Key has got it wrong. Because these boys are not silly or stupid or just bolstering up their self esteem on someone else’s credit card. They are in fact masters of their own destiny as they take the proverbial while they’re taking everyone else to the cleaners.

These are not so much the L’Oreal boys but the Mastercard Men. Ripping off your boss for 18 million and spending it on wine and women? $18 million. Paying for it over 6 years by staying in a tax payer funded institution? Priceless.

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I always get suspicious when things go quiet on the lunatic fringe

I always get suspicious when things go quiet on the lunatic fringe – in this case I’m referring to the Act party.

I wonder what they’re up to – Rodney feeling chastised after his exuberance with Mummy state’s credit card has been almost mute (well as far as that tan and those teeth can be restrained) and Mr. Douglas has only once popped his head from the Act party burrow to declare war on obligatory student unionism. For awhile, the very fact that the rabid right was having a petulant tanty over this National government’s steady cleaving to the middle of the road (not to mention all that disorientating cosying up to the Maori Party) was enough to reassure me that all was well in Godzone. And then along came Act MP Mr. Garrett.


Dave, I’m sure we can call him Dave, because he sounds like such a regular sort of bloke has said we should consider offering an incentive of 5 thousand dollars to couples with a history of child abuse to have themselves sterilised. Unsurprisingly, talk back land declared a national holiday, got out the marching bands and spent the day over-using the words ‘Hitler’. Which is what you’d expect.

But what I found really interesting was that if you listened hard enough, there was an almost audible ripple of ‘bloody good idea’ running underneath the strident denouncements of Mr Garret’s radical new proposal. From the jaded lawyers having a quick fag outside the courtrooms, to the decks of those now impossible to sell beach houses and all along the conservative middle New Zealand suburbs, I could almost pick out a collective sigh of relief that someone was at last willing to take drastic action to stop our truly awful child abuse statistics that put kiwis in the bad and the ugly basket of the OECD statistics. It seems so simple.

But how exactly, does offering a financial reward for committing terrible harm on a child work? Is $5000 enough to motivate an initial abusive act on a minor in order to get yourself a motorbike and a free vasectomy?

Forward thinking is not a strong feature in the young and the uneducated. India found that out when they offered young males a free radio as an incentive for a vasectomy in an attempt at population control. It was especially successful because many of the young blokes who signed on – couldn’t read what they’d signed up to and it was only 15 years later when they were married and wanted to have kids that India found itself with an irate underclass on its hands.

Child abuse is not committed solely by biological parents either. Many of the most publicised cases of child abuse over the last few years was committed by adoptive parents, aunties or uncles or so called friends of the family so in order to deal with this problem – the entire family must be removed not just sterilised.

Preventing people from having children as a plausible policy on preventing child abuse makes as much sense as someone burning their own house down to prevent it from being robbed. It’s simple – but completely barking mad and a sign of a fractured and defeated society rather than one that is flourishing.

If it takes a community to raise a child then the prevention of child abuse is a communal problem rather than just an individual crime.

Instead of the anti kid stance of Mr. Garrett, a much more inspiring model can be seen in another Act Party supporter and multi millionaire property developer – 86 year old Martin Coffey. He saw kids who were ‘alienated, overweight and often unable to swim’ and felt that a community should have a place where kids could learn to play and be social together and not be charged for it. Instead of complaining about street kids he has offered to build a new community pool in St Albans which will get kids off the streets and into the water. I’d like to hear what his policy on preventing child abuse would be – but unfortunately the lunatic right gets a lot more press than their more rational counterparts.

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